THREATENED: GSA Announces Plans to Sell Railroad Retirement Board Building

“The federal government is looking to unload an office building on Rush Street as part of a broader move to save money on real estate.

“The U.S. General Services Administration this week announced it will begin the process to sell the William O. Lipinski Federal Building at 844 N. Rush St., according to a statement from the agency, which manages properties owned by the federal government. The 15-story building one block west of the Magnificent Mile is one of 23 properties the GSA said it will look to sell ‘as it accelerates its efforts to right-size and modernize the federal buildings portfolio,’ the statement said.

“The 337,500-square-foot property on Rush Street is home to the U.S. Railroad Retirement Board, an agency that oversees benefits for the nation’s railroad workers. The group is one of the few federal agencies headquartered outside of Washington, D.C., according to the GSA’s website.

“It’s unclear whether the agency would continue to occupy the building after it is sold, though the GSA has sought to consolidate its office footprint in recent years. In one recent example, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services is vacating its roughly 170,000-square-foot office at 233 N. Michigan Ave. and moving downtown employees into available space in federally owned buildings at 230 S. Dearborn St. and 77 W. Jackson Blvd.

“A spokesman for the Railroad Retirement Board couldn’t be reached, but GSA Administrator Robin Carnahan said in the statement that the government ‘is committed to right-sizing and optimizing the federal buildings portfolio in ways that benefit local communities and taxpayers. GSA and our agency partners will continue to assess space needs and accelerate the disposition of federal buildings that are underperforming, underused, or otherwise don’t use taxpayer dollars effectively.’

“The Lipinski building is the only Chicago property on the new list of 23 buildings the GSA intends to sell. The agency said the sale of those buildings will ‘right-size’ the federal government’s real estate footprint by 3.5 million square feet and eliminate $1 billion in costs of operating the buildings over a 10-year period.

“The building was completed in 1923 and became the U.S. Railroad Retirement Board Building in 1942. In 2011, it was renamed for former U.S. Congressman William Lipinski, who led a number of local transportation infrastructure efforts during his 22 years in office.

“The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Retail tenants on the ground floor include Epic Burger and the Gold Coast Auto Gallery, which includes showrooms for high-end car brands such as Bentley, Lamborghini and Maserati. (Ecker, Crain’s Chicago Business, 11/10/23)

Preservation Chicago would like to see the profits generated from the sale of the Railroad Retirement Board Building used to restore the terra cotta on GSA owned Century and Consumers Buildings located at 202 S. State Street and 220 S. State Street in the heart of Chicago’s Loop.

Read the full story at Crain’s Chicago Business

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